The best kind of gift is the unique, the original, the unexpected, and the kind that keeps on giving.
A while ago, I received an email from Mike Strauss, saying, "I hope you don't mind, but I used one of your photos as the inspiration for a painting." He attached a few images, and he was requesting permission to blog about it.
This is the original photo that appeared on my blog:
And here are the images of the painting in ink wash that Mike sent:
Would I mind?! Would I MIND!?
I was surprised and thrilled and excited, and I hoped that Mike would allow me to buy the original from him so that I could give it to Ryan for Christmas, thereby solving my gift-buying dilemma for the hand model who has everything. I fear a case of Lubriderm and cotton bed gloves just doesn't have the same kind of impact as an original painting of one's beloved little Yorkie, even if he is fostered out for the time being to the grandparents in Siberia Vermont.
Mike wouldn't sell it to me.
he sent it to me as a gift. Not only the original, but two prints as well.
I've been busting my buttons because I could not put this in the blog until the kids had received their gifts. But now they have, to much glee, and I can safely share it with you. Mike blogged about it at the time here, and I could not link to his post then, but now I can.
I can also take this opportunity to share with you a nice review of Mike's current show, ongoing until January 17, 2010, at the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery in Jericho, Vermont.
I took the original painting and two prints (one for Abigail to have in her law school digs, and one for me as well) to my frame shop and chose mats and frames for them. Good framing and matting and UV-blocking glass and the whole nine yards is a rather spendy proposition, but so worth it. They turned out just gorgeous!
It was a real learning experience, too. I'm very glad I did not just hand the prints to David, as was my original plan, and ask him to just get them unthoughtfully double-matted with black and white, and plain black frames. I told Norm at the Champlain Collection that if that ever happens, he WILL know to call me first, right? We now have a pact.
Because when I got in there to work with him -- I've worked with him for framing my prints for years -- it was clear that that would have been wrong, wrong, wrong. The original watercolor greatly benefited from a purply-charcoal grey mat, a super-white mat, and black frame to go with Ryan's decor. And the other two prints had some purply-browny-sepia-and creamy-white tones to pick up in their mats, and Norm helped me choose a fabulous metal frame that is bronzy and has some texture that echoes the curly movement of Mr. Jefferies' hair.
I fear this may be the pinnacle of my gift-giving to Abigail and Ryan, though. How can I ever top this?